To sell, pitch, market, promote, and basically get the word out on your business is probably one of the most important things a business owner has to get around to do.
It’s not as easy as writing it down on your “to do” list though. Modern day entrepreneurs put in thousands of hours, not to mention blood, sweat, and tears, before a single pitch goes out (if you can call it a pitch, that is, since it’s much more than that).
The hours also include time for product creation, charting out processes for a service, hiring people, setting up infrastructure, and working on a hundred different things before entrepreneurs get ready to send out a proposal.
Surprisingly, even making the sales pitch is an incomplete endeavor without the following simple, but necessary steps. Here’s a look at what most business owners miss out on:
Combining Incredible Products/Services with a Website that Works
It’s one thing to grab and idea and walk the ramp with it; it’s entirely something else to make the idea sweat it out to make it work for your business. Idea is nothing without execution. Any action towards this idea without due importance to value is abortive.
To get it right, you can ask yourself this: I got this idea, and it’s awesome because it solves this overarching problem most people seem to have. The question is: how do I create, position, and market this product so that I can create an irresistible offer? What can I do to make my products or services truly indispensible?
Sweating on the work to build products and services to answer that question takes a long time. You can either work on it first and launch later or launch now and work on it as you go along using customer feedback. Whatever you do, you’ll need great products or services.
The key, however, is to make sure that there can be no possible way a competitor can pull the rug from under your feet.
Executing a Marketing Plan that Actually Works for You
Landing on the right channels for marketing your business is possible only if you invest and experiment. While some routes are mandatory, most others are optional. Business owners tend to take the popular route: what seems to be working for most businesses could work for your business – this is a simple oversight.
Dropbox, for instance, barely invested in advertising at all. Yet, it’s now worth $4 billion. By 2011, Dropbox made about $240 million. More than a billion files are saved to Dropbox every 48 hours. It has over 50 million users and over 100 employees.
What did Dropbox do to achieve this?
To start with, it built a sign-up page with an easy sign-up process that was designed to collect sign-ups (that’s 3 sign-ups in a sentence). Secondly, it made an irresistible offer with a “free” start. Thirdly, it had a referral program (with incentives) from day one of the launch. Finally, it leveraged social media by rewarding followers with incentives (such as a 125 MB increase in storage space).
Dropbox isn’t the only company. There are many others—here’s how Zara, a fashion retailer, grew without investing in ads. You may also want to learn how Spanx grew into a billion dollar business with just word-of-mouth, the “Oprah Effect,” and better packaging.
Find out what kind of marketing works for you. Keeping up with the Joneses in advertising can be expensive.
Building a Brand
Large businesses grow bigger because of their brand and they’ll continue to do so. Small businesses, however, make a mistake to think that they are too small for worrying about “branding.”
Here’s one definition: a brand is a perception formed in customers’ minds about the reliability, consistency of maintaining quality, and the overall feel about transactions with a business. It’s clear from this that businesses of all sizes need branding.
If you’re a small business owner and still unconvinced, maybe Anita Campbell of Smallbiztrends.com can convince you.
Right from an individual freelancer to a mega-corporation, branding has little to do with logos and corporate identity (contrary to public perception), although these are good for business. Brand has more to do with the promises you keep and how much your customer loves you.
You need to start with stability, strength, and consistency when looking to create a brand. Having a simple-sounding and basic thing such as a fully functional, good-looking website that can hold its ground is a lot more difficult than you can imagine. Use a service like WhoIsHostingThis to make sure you select a hosting provider that ensures zero downtime for your site.
Then you move on to the “perception,” for which you always have work to do—constantly define and redefine what your brand stands for. What is it about your brand that a makes a customer sit up and notice? Associate colors, characteristics, people, and designs with your brand. Once you pick and choose what sticks, keep it forever.
Hoarding up Social Proof
In the world of the web, which is increasingly same as the world itself, you can’t afford not to be social. Get this:
Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase, according to research by Power Reviews.
For the consumer packaged goods industry, visitors who read reviews have a 6% higher average order value than those who don’t, reveals research by Bazaarvoice.
What sort of conversation do you have with your customers on Facebook? Do you tweet anything more than your blog posts on Twitter? Do enough professionals follow your company page on LinkedIn? What’s on your blog and what criteria do you have for publishing on it?
The truth is, most companies can’t bring their owners to read their blog, let alone clients.
If you have a namesake presence on social media and your only followers are ghosts, if you don’t take part in conversations and fail to rake up online interest in your products, don’t be surprised if no one ever mentions you anywhere.
And how does that go for first impressions?
Social media and content marketing is a long-term investment. It’s more to do with caring, sharing, and solving others’ problems. It’s the most modern way of shouldering responsibility to community. As you do this continuously, every single day, you build loyal followers and fans.
It’s a nice feeling to have customers or clients follow you when you have a busy social media presence.
Rome, or Kabul for that matter, was not built in a day. All of these are long-term plays and it will necessitate incessant marching on your part to get there.
While I still believe that you should go out there and make your pitches (sales came before marketing), it’s time to work hard to make inbound marketing work for you. Get customers knocking on your door!